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Lichen Landscapes

January 12, 2014

Winter landscapes often reveal a beauty over-looked in other seasons.  Lichens, for instance, produce the subtle and sometimes vibrant colours  revealed by melting snow, draped over dead branches and that colonize tree trunks.

It would be difficult to find a more fascinating life history than that of the lichens. Lichens are a symbiotic relationship between fungal and algal cells. The fungus provides the structure that roots the organism to the substrate and provides nutrients to the alga. The algae, through photosynthesis, provide carbohydrates to the fungi.  Both symbionts retain their autonomy and can grow independantly if separated.

Letharia lichen - also called  Wolf Lichen.

Letharia lichen – also called Wolf Lichen.

An Alectoria or Usnea lichen

An Alectoria Lichen

A close-up of Allectoria Lichen

A close-up of Allectoria Lichen

A Hypogymnia Lichen

Hypogymnia imshaugii

Lobaria pulmonaria also called Lung Lichen

Lobaria pulmonaria also called Lung Lichen

Peltigera polydactyla

Peltigera polydactyla

Hypnogymnia physodes, a lichen tolerant of air pollution

Hypnogymnia physodes, a lichen more  tolerant of air pollution than most lichens

A Lichen Landscape

A rochy lichen landscape

Human history has been flavoured by lichens.  People have used lichens to ferment beer,  as food and medicine, and have dyed clothes with lichen dyes.  Caribou, among other animals, rely heavily on lichens. Lichens are also very sensitive to air pollution and can be used to monitor the spread of pollutants across a landscape.

Lichens can also be very beautiful.  I share these photos with you as a testament to that beauty.

all photos and writing copyright J.A. Siderius

5 Comments
  1. Susan Hammond permalink

    Absolutely gorgeous photos, Joanne.

    Susie

  2. I loved this post!! I too, look for lichens and fungi in the woods and marvel at the beauty of this unique organism. The shapes, colors, and just the varieties that are out there in nature astound me.

  3. I have difficulty putting names to the lichen I photograph- any tips?

    • Hi – I am no expert, but I have a couple of identification books and I check with people who do know more about lichens. And when I make mistakes I rely on my friends to let me know. I hope that helps.

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